How Lies Spread Online – Sinan Aral

From The New York Times

The spread of misinformation on social media is an alarming phenomenon that scientists have yet to fully understand. While the data show that false claims are increasing online, most studies have analyzed only small samples or the spread of individual fake stories.

My colleagues Soroush Vosoughi, Deb Roy and I set out to change that. We recently analyzed the diffusion of all of the major true and false stories that spread on Twitter from its inception in 2006 to 2017. Our data included approximately 126,000 Twitter “cascades” (unbroken chains of retweets with a common, singular origin) involving stories spread by three million people more than four and a half million times.

Disturbingly, we found that false stories spread significantly more than did true ones. Our findings were published on Thursday in the journal Science.

We started by identifying thousands of true and false stories, using information from six independent fact-checking organizations, including Snopes, PolitiFact and Factcheck.org. These organizations exhibited considerable agreement — between 95 percent and 98 percent — on the truth or falsity of these stories. Read More »

Taking steps to reduce foreign social-media meddling in our elections – Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Neal Hartman

From Huffington Post

One could almost pity the executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter as they were grilled on Capitol Hill earlier this week by senators upset about Russian meddling in last year’s presidential election, via the posting of cleverly worded propaganda ads and messages on social-media sites.

After all, how do you detect – let alone stop – a small group of determined foreign nationals manipulating and taking advantage of what’s supposed to be open, free-flowing Internet platforms idealistically designed to allow billions of people across the globe to voice their thoughts on everything from world politics to the type off pigeons in Trafalgar Square?

Of course, the Facebook, Google and Twitter executives at the Senate hearing earlier this week bowed their heads, expressed remorse and vowed to do better in combating the threat of foreign interference in our democratic elections.

But the question is: Can they do better? Is it possible? Remember: Facebook alone acknowledges that it received only about $100,000 in paid ads by those it later learned were tied to various Russian groups, but those ads were still seen by about 10 million people, according to media reports.

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Do you think fake news can be killed with the truth? Think again–Sharon Pian Chan, Andre Alfred

Andre Alfred, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

Andre Alfred, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

Sharon Pian Chan, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

Sharon Pian Chan, Executive MBA Student at MIT Sloan

From Art + marketing

The presidential election exposed deep divisions in the country, among our families, friends, in the workplace and in the classroom.

Buzzfeed’s recent findings about the power of fake news is particularly troubling. The 20-most read fake stories got more traffic than the top 20 stories reported by credible news organizations that verify facts and validate stories.

In fact, people writing fake news are making more money than journalists committed to reporting the truth, according to Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat, who talked to a fake news site in Seattle called Bipartisan Report.

Fake news sent a man with an assault rifle to a pizza shop in Washington, D.C., searching for a fictional child sex ring connected to Hillary Clinton. (Check out The Washington Post’s story.)

What are the forces behind the creation and, let’s face it, widespread consumption of lies?

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What Facebook’s latest stock move means for investors and the SEC — Charles Kane

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Charles Kane

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Charles Kane

From Fortune

Under Armour and Alphabet have similar stock structures.

Activist investors are fundamentally changing the investment market. They accumulate enough stock in publicly traded companies to influence who sits on the board, then pressure the management and board to focus on short-term returns at the expense of long-term investment. Facebook’s introduction of non-voting shares last week is a preemptive move to block this sort of intervention.

Currently, Facebook FB -0.21% has a dual-class stock structure, with Class A shares having one vote per share and Class B shares, which its founder Mark Zuckerberg and company insiders own, conferring 10 votes per share. The company intends to issue two Class C shares as a one-time stock dividend, which will grant economic ownership of Facebook, but no voting rights. This structure will preserve founder control, and enables Zuckerberg to liquidate a large portion of his shares to pursue philanthropic interests, yet still retain majority-voting control—without a majority of shares. It also means that, as Zuckerberg put it, “You don’t have to worry about losing your job over a couple of bad quarters or controversial short-term decisions, and that makes it easier to make the decisions you think are correct.” In short, predatory activist investors can’t take control and push him out.

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Google Plus losing to Facebook: what it says about Internet privacy — Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

MIT Sloan Professor Catherine Tucker

From Fortune

When Google joined the social networking space in 2011 with Google+, more than 25 million people joined in the first month. Now the number of true users on Google+ is less than 1% of the total 2.2 billion users on Google, according to a report by Stone Temple Consulting.

What happened?

Some of the decline may be explained by the fact that a Google+ profile was created automatically when people registered for Google. That alone would generate an impressive number of profiles, but wouldn’t necessarily lead to active use of the social media platform. According toForbes, just 6.7 million users have 50 or more posts ever, and only 3.5 million have 50 or more posts in the last 30 days.

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